Tag Archives: radio

East of the Sun and West of the Moon

They Might Be Giants

Having been laid up for a bit, I decided to take a walk during the mild afternoon today in Toki. With the sun at my back, I sauntered eastward, hoping to find a bit to blog about as well.


By the time I reached the midpoint of my loop and turned back in the direction I came, the clouds had covered the sun, which was a relief since it would’ve been blinding. I snapped the shutter on this VW Bug that, like another I saw last year, still has a rare old Gifu license plate with only one kanji.


The Bug was a giant compared to what was down the road a bit. This Daihatsu Midget has been here ever since I can remember. It has its own little parking space under a corrugated roof in front of the owner’s house. It’s always spotless. And I don’t think it’s ever driven. A little research revealed it’s likely a first-year (1957) model. Subsequent models had such modern luxuries as steering wheels, doors and four wheels. This is in fact the well-known tuk-tuk that’s chugged and beeped through the traffic throngs of Southeast Asia for over half a century. It’s actually classified as an autorickshaw.


After I got back home, the clouds had floated to the eastern sky, bringing a cool rain, and with the sun back out in the west, this double rainbow.


That might be a heavy-duty ham’s antenna. I guess it’s still a relatively common hobby among older men here. Me, I’m just an amateur ham…


This is the building that used to house Sabbat Sabbat Jazz Bar. I hadn’t realized until now that it closed last summer until further notice, apparently. Not being Spiderman, and having to carefully use my left arm as a rain roof for the arm/hand/thumb-capturing lens-at-the-edge wide-angle iPhone, this was the best angle I could get to match the building’s distinctive arced roofline with the rainbow.


None of these rainbow images are enhanced. Only cropped. If I could get idyllic scenes with rolling hills and stately oaks and little lambs to adorn the lightshow, or even graphic urban blight, trust me, I would. The horizon-al reality of where I live is wires, antennas, corrugated tin and cramped, often uninspired architecture, not new enough to be a statement, not old enough to be antique, not Dickensian enough to be a player in its own right. For every borderline workable angle like this pair of rooves, there are a thousand useless ones. I just make what I can of it.

And the Moon Jumped Over the Cow


Finally, a little while ago, this. Behind those dark clouds and the rainbow had been this mooing mingling of multicolored light. In the constellation of Taurus, the Moon is right in the head of the bull, with Jupiter right in the, uh, bull’s eye. And I think, by Jove, to the lower right of the moon faintly in this picture, the other eye, the red giant Aldebaran.

Power to the People

Field of Nightmares


Sounding, when you think about it, like a movie plot, transformers (largely out of view here, if you can imagine) dominate the landscape in Kasugai, along with a cellphone tower and plain old gargantuan power line towers, and even the moon in the top left corner like a mothballed insect in a spider’s web.

This is one of the favorite stops on local tours given to giant prehistoric fire-breathing monsters and menacing megamoths visiting from Pacific islands for the holidays. Don’t worry, they’ve all returned by now, ready to go back to their nine-to-five drudgery of centuries-long hibernation spent dreaming up new ways to wreak havoc on innocent civilian populations.

I had a car whose frame actually used to act as some kind of radio receiver and hummed when I drove through the electrical fields, kind of like when Laurie on The Partridge Family gets braces and they pick up radio signals. YouTube video here for those needing a convenient excuse to revisit their childhood idolatry of Susan Dey interested in wave propagation theory and the Piebald Syndrome (they say dental fillings and shrapnel can tune you in as well. There’s even a World War II urban legend about Lucille Ball picking up Japanese spies in her mouth). Yes, girls, Danny Keith is there in the video, too.

Not a Player

Fate led me to pachinko last weekend. Nothing else was going to, that’s for sure.

Parlor Games

I was asked to appear Sunday on FM Pipi’s (76.3 mHz) weekly live broadcast from Zent pachinko center, to talk a bit about the business I work for. It’s a segment of the Sunday show that introduces local businesses to listeners.

Driving into the sprawling new complex at the corner of routes 19 and 248, I was struck, though I was already well aware of it, by what I have to say is the questionable use of human potential and money represented by the vast tonnage of cars parked and stacked outside.

On entering the building, the indescribable (like all sounds ever made blasted at once, or maybe something Mephistopheles would have on his mp3 player?) arcade cacophony followed me into the multi-purpose studio, though apparently not across the airwaves.

Regarding another reason I’ve avoided the parlors since trying one at someone’s insistence decades ago, I actually noticed a “smoking area,” which makes me think, goodness forbid, smoking may actually be banned?

After the show, the boss and I (it was a joint appearance) had lunch at the Nagoya-based Sugakiya ramen outlet in the building (smoking allowed there), which also has its own Circle K convenience store and (how convenient) ATMs. Sugakiya also has branches at Valor supermarkets. This bowl was ¥580 and not as burdensomely filling as a lot of ramen. I thought the photo deserved its own memery (my word, “memery,” as far as I know, though I wouldn’t be surpised if someone else long ere planted a flag there).


Something From Nothing

And another excuse to slap block letters on an otherwise inferior foodie photo and call it macaroni: These “tofu donuts” sold at Sun Mall supermarket in Toki were pretty darn good. The words basically refer to leaving only the center of an image in focus to draw attention there.


Summer Snacktime


Summer is in full gear, and besides eel and cold noodles to fortify yourself, there’s always kakigouri, shaved ice, among traditional Japanese ways to eat the heat. Here, green tea and strawberry milk mountains of ice, simple yet straight to the jugular, are attacked from the peak down at Lamp Cafe. It was agreed about half this size is really enough.

In other summer refreshment news, pomelo is now available for a limited time as a shochu flavoring. Try this and the shiikuwasa and plum flavors of Suntory’s Strong Zero offerings. Soft on the carbs, but tasty and refreshing.


And once again, with a best supporting actor award to my tatami, kudos to these genuinely different and recommendable potato chips, (lightly salted) Kata Age chips from Calbee.


Now, I’m not a potato chip fan by any measure. But, slow-fried in oil approximately equivalent to the national petroleum reserves of Norway, these thick-sliced, “chewably delicious” golden guys are truly coronary inducing crisp. Raditional, indeed.

Sorry for the decadence. It’s a little habit I’ve picked up (plug alert) doing radio at FM Pipi, where they often test out different snacks on the air, letting listeners hear every lick, crunch, slurp and chew. Besides the eating noise factor, I also have never understood the blatant commercial product advocacy/criticism on this tax-funded public station. No complaints at all, just puzzling.

Hard to Swallow

And speaking of baffling, blatant eating sounds (if not sound eating) on the air, have I aired my supreme annoyance and flabbergasted flummoxedness at the incessant, heavy-handed use of gulping, swallowing sounds in Japanese TV commercials for beer and other drinks? I get it that it’s visceral and supposed to make the drinks more appetizing, but enough already. I’m nonplussed. Is it any accident that American TV ads don’t do that?

And a last bit of indulgence: I had some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the first time in ages today. Now I realize why they were on sale: They melt like the Dickens in this heat (will people similarly abuse my surname in years to come? Sorry, Charlie; Hopeful me… (check out that link – credits to McCarthy-era-blacklisted Herschel Bernardi (I remember Arnie and the lunchbox/briefcase intro à la 2001), though this “alternate opening” I definitely remember in some form, and George Carlin)). I had to scrape the amorphous contents off the brown paper cup with my two front teeth.


Yes, that Pennsylvania zip code leads you to Hershey, the now Surrey, UK-based never-say-melt competitor to Nestlé. It’s 8:45. Do you know where your fave Co is HQ’d??

And what of that “cocoa mass” ingredient? Was this written presumptively before the Higgs Boson virtual discovery announcement? As opposed to “dark matter,” “milk matter,” “cocoa antimatter,” or my midriff. Someone please end this murky matter and send the chemical makeup of cocoa mass.

Form, Essence and Bad Jazz

Putting Your Fingers in Your Ears

It’s nice to see someone who can bend more ears than you put their own finger on an idea you yourself have identified but haven’t been able to reach people with. Here’s such a case from National Public Radio: “A List of Things Which Are More ‘Jazz’ Than Bad Jazz Music” (veiled profanity alert; I’m not a prude, and no one can reproach my record of guts in cussing where it takes courage, but those words don’t belong in my ear or my line of sight when I say they don’t, and they don’t right now). I first found this list on their spiffy new, in-house-developed, “NPR Music” iPad app – significant because it shows how keen they are to avoid radio becoming irrelevant at the hands of modern technology. Make sure to get the universal app, not “NPR for iPad”.

As a side note, it’s pleasantly surprising how some cash-strapped US government agencies not primarily known for their efficiency, like NPR, NASA, and, as I recall, maybe the National Park Service, have put out very admirable apps that put many large corporations’ token efforts to unmitigated shame. Go figure. And way to go.

I don’t know about the actual choices in this list, but just the idea of some things that aren’t even music embodying the true essence of jazz more than even some music that’s called jazz shows me someone really understands jazz. Though the form of the things on the list may differ from jazz, the points in common outweigh the differences in important ways.

As another example among many of this idea of not confusing form with essence, I remember I used to remark how the movie adaptation of Tom Robbins’s “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” (I’ve never seen the film, but have seen the screenplay, which looks to basically be a word-for-word transcription (must be a better verb for that) of the book) was probably, by its very faithfulness to the book, in fact antithetical to the freewheeling, irreverant spirit of the original work; Many another wholly different film or other endeavor has probably embodied Robbins’s spirit much better. In a different sense, a film like Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” though it doesn’t capture the bleak dreariness of life under Big Brother, was perhaps a better (vague word, I know; More accessible?) cinematic telling of the story of George Orwell’s “1984″ than the verbatim movie “1984,” which came out at the same time.

I’ll try to come up with some of my own things that fit the jazz list in future posts.

Adversity In Your Face

Another commendation for a job well done today. This time, it’s a pair of snakebitten broadcasters from the British Isles.

As I had a day off, I had a listen to the NFL National Conference Championship between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers on the only available audio for me, BBC 5 Live/5 Live Sports Extra radio. The scene was the always windy, and this cold day, soggy, soaking rainy Candlestick Park overlooking San Francisco Bay. The venerable stadium has reached a pretty decrepit state itself, forcing mere radio broadcasters, and foreigners at that, to vantage points at field level at flimsy tables under (a charitable preposition) flapping, dripping tarpaulins, surrounded by raucous fans and decades of discarded paraphernalia, ranging from Bill Walsh-era computers to a museum of vacuum cleaners to, if I understood correctly, leftover props from Star Wars movies.

British play-by-play man Darren Fletcher and, by accent I’d say Canadian color analyst Greg Brady (yes, really. And sorry, Peter. You had your day last week, remember? Now stop pouting and eat your appleshawus), had nowhere to plug in and charge their electronics, which is to say they didn’t have their electronics – no stats, no comparisons, no notes, no quotes… Even the notes they did put on paper and completely tape over the table somehow quickly soaked up the pervasive Bay rain like a seedy bar’s cocktail napkin on the lap of a clumsy oaf taking advantage of every minute of the happy hour (cue footage of Walter Matthau’s blissfully oblivious Frisco souse character in the ’70′s disaster movie (indeed it was) “Earthquake”).

These guys were thrown in this maelstrom literally without a towel, and could have thrown in the towel and mailed in the broadcast. But they flew in the face of that adversity, ad-libbing, jibbing and jibing their way back and forth all game long, laughing at their predicament and themselves the whole way, and it was fabulous.

I love it when adversity, faced squarely, makes me or others stronger and turn in a performance even I or they wouldn’t have thought possible. No need to apologize. Quite the contrary. I’ve done radio going back thirty years (not continually, mind you), and still have a weekly spot now on local FM, but for me it never comes as easy as for full-timers like this. They seat-of-the-pantsed it better than anyone could have scripted. And this was the BBC, meaning zero commercials through halftime or any other break in the onfield action. On air all the time. No “back to you in the studio.” They were the only yous. And youz guyz wuz da maaan, man.

Floppy fuschia hats off to them. And cheap plastic ponchos. And goofy galoshes. And temporary tarps. Throw them a warm, dry towel, a Thermos of hot Bay area coffee, a bucket of Snickers and some Frisco style fish & chips. They earned it. I might even be getting used to the idea that someone with a British accent could actually be able to talk about, uh, football. Great job, guys.

Jazz Nights and Sitting Back

Sitting semi-cross-legged on the tatami for the first time in a while. A simple pleasure revisited as a result of a kneecap taking absence without leave, and its halting re-entry to the world at hand/foot. Don’t mean to be abstruse. Just being a sentient being.

Being serenaded as I tap this out by a real McCoy of jazz (not McCoy Tyner on this one, but Bill Evans on piano and the rest of the Miles Davis Quintet straight from 1958). Broadcast from New York, though coming through on the net.

Another fruit I realized I only really care for sometimes, pictured below.


On the subject of summer life on the vine, I saw two ladybugs and a gecko crawling up windows today. Don’t know if that’s a trend or a red herring. Some say ladybugs are bellwethers of weather patterns.  My barber said the rainy season may be lifting, though that seems unlikely.